Merkel shows softer side on Italian holiday
03.04.13 @ 09:16
Berlin - German Chancellor Angela Merkel - for many the incarnation of EU austerity and German rigour - has shown her softer side by visiting a waiter who lost his job.
She paid the surprise visit to the home of Cristoforo Iacono, a former head waiter at a hotel where Merkel and her family are regular customers, while on her Easter holidays in Italy.
"Yes, she came to our house to see him and stayed over for lunch. Merkel has known my father for a lifetime, we are so happy to have had her in our home," Iacono's daughter, Marianna, told Italian daily La Stampa.
Iacono has known her for decades, long before she became the most powerful leader in Europe.
Eight years into her chancellorship Merkel has grown skilled in avoiding the paparazzi.
She reportedly went to Iacono's home while on a hiking trip in the surrounding mountains with her husband last Saturday (30 March).
Whether or not Merkel deserves the criticism aimed at her over her handling of the eurozone crisis, Italy's populist politicians are among those who blame her for their country's problems.
Regional governor Stefano Caldaro, while welcoming Merkel in the seaside resort of Ischia, also urged her in a video message to pay attention to areas with the highest unemployment rates.
He noted that for every German without a job, there are 10 unemployed people in his region.
Fresh unemployment figures published by the European Commission on Tuesday showed a growing divide between Germany and southern nations, with record highs in Greece, Spain and Portugal.
Merkel is set to stay on in Ischia until Friday together with her husband, Joachim Sauer, as well as Sauer's son from a previous marriage, his wife and two children.